Although the University of Wisconsin System cap on out-of-state enrollees could increase slightly, officials hope more Wisconsin students might be able to attend UW-Madison, the system’s flagship university.
The Board of Regents Education Committee announced a compromise on the cap increase on Thursday, and a vote today will center on whether to approve it.
The regents had proposed a change in the cap of non-resident enrollees from 25 percent to 30 percent, which prompted a response on Wednesday from Rep. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, who chairs the Colleges and Universities Committee in the state Assembly.
Mike Mikalsen, spokesperson for Nass, told the regents in a letter that he was concerned with whether the increase in the cap would prevent resident applicants from attending UW-Madison.
The Education Committee voted unanimously to amend the original proposal, changing the proposed cap increase to 27.5 percent. They also included a paragraph in the proposal that would ensure about 200 more Wisconsin residents per admission cycle are admitted, which will be reviewed every year to make sure that UW-Madison is meeting that goal.
“What we hear from our constituents and people who are concerned about the system is that they would really like to see more students get into UW-Madison,” Regent Tim Higgins said as he introduced the proposal.
Higgins said the increase in Wisconsin resident freshmen at UW-Madison would be funded by the increase in out-of-state students, who pay larger tuition amounts than resident students.
Various regents also noted the importance of having diversity on campuses and allowing students to interact with those from other states as well as international students.
This year, UW-Madison surpassed the 25 percent cap by 0.8 percent, although it also saw one of the largest amounts of new freshman residents admitted.
Regent John Drew, who supported the amendment but not the original proposal, pointed out that the 25 percent number is not truly the cap, as the amount of students from Minnesota leads to UW-Madison having 63 percent of its students being from Wisconsin.
As he pointed out, UW-Madison is already “fairly low” in comparison to other states’ flagship universities in the amount of in state students.
He said despite the “dubious and reactionary origins” of the 25 percent cap, which one regent described as “arbitrary” and stemming from the Vietnam War protests, the cap has been positive for Wisconsin.
Mikalsen said Nass was “pleased” with the compromise the two sides reached that would allow an additional 200 Wisconsin families to send their kids to the state’s flagship university.
Mikalsen said Nass was also generally happy with the discussions both sides had, as the regents’ and the UW-Madison chancellor listened to and addressed his concerns.
“It’s very important to show that what could’ve turned into a pretty big, messy showdown with the Legislature turned into a very good [and] positive outcome,” Mikalsen said. “This compromise is a win-win for Wisconsin families and win for the university as it looks to try to increase slightly the number of out of state enrollees.”